By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
Call it serendipity or simply the desire to pay it forward, but Dr. John McNaught is using the inspiration provided by a woman he will never meet to make one family’s baby dreams come true.
McNaught, medical director at Fertility Ontario, is currently searching for a family to provide $10,000 in fertility treatments to through his Laura’s Wish campaign. The initiative is named in honour of a woman whose death this past summer inspired a group of friends and family to make donations to Fertility Ontario.
Back in August, McNaught said the clinic received an envelope containing $310 in personal cheques from a funeral home in Sarnia. Having no idea where the cheques came from, McNaught contacted the funeral home, and then eventually, the husband of a 36-year-old woman who died after giving birth to a daughter only months before.
“He (the husband) told me her story, how she had several miscarriages through the years, which emotionally took a huge toll on her. In the summertime, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl after years of trying,” McNaught said. “A couple months after that, she passed away due to complications from that pregnancy. At her funeral service, they directed donations to Fertility Ontario because she wanted somebody else to be spared the suffering she went through.”
With emotion clouding his voice, McNaught said the woman’s story “totally knocked the wind out of me,” particularly because of the parallels with his own life. McNaught is also 36 years old and his second son was born within a month of Laura’s daughter.
In another strange coincidence, McNaught said the husband told him Fertility Ontario was chosen as the recipient through nothing more than the results of a Google search for fertility clinics.
“I think there is a certain amount of serendipity in this. Not too many fertility clinics have a 36-year-old medical director with a six-month-old child,” McNaught said. “I do think things happen for a reason sometimes and I think that is why I was so shaken up by this. I think there is a responsibility; that is how I view it.”
That sense of responsibility inspired McNaught to create Laura’s Wish where the clinic will receive applications from people in need of fertility treatment, but lack the financial means to acquire it. The clinic will conduct the search through both their Facebook page and through the Fertility Ontario website.
McNaught said he would provide his own services pro bono, while he has also enlisted some of the pharmaceutical companies he works with to provide medications. In addition, McNaught will be personally paying for all the laboratory and hospital fees personally.
According to McNaught, the cost of a full cycle of fertility treatment, including all medications, is approximately $10,000. And while $310 is a tiny portion of that cost, McNaught said he knew exactly what he had to do with it.
“I was sitting there, thinking about all the ways I have been blessed, empathizing with this family in what they had lost, and so blown away by the gesture to help someone else when realistically, so much had been taken away from them,” McNaught said. “It was instant perspective, I knew what I had to do as soon as we got that money. The right thing to do isn’t a hard thing to figure out. It was such a great motive, tremendous gesture, I knew what to do.”
In addition to launching family search, McNaught said he hopes Laura’s story can inspire others to seek out the help they need. And with 2,000 patients a year coming through his doors, McNaught knows full well how large that need is.
“I would also like to raise some awareness of the suffering people go through. I don’t think people are as cognizant of that as they could be,” McNaught said. “Fertility patients often suffer in silence and if this process helps give that suffering a voice, I think it has merit. We hope this will be a positive experience.”
This process is also leading to assistance for Laura’s daughter as well. McNaught said the clinic has also made a contribution to the daughter’s education fund, which they are not alone in. In fact, McNaught said he has had former patients hear Laura’s story and asking how they can donate as well.
“It has taken a hold of people on an emotional level. A small gesture can start something huge and I think people need to know, no matter how small the contribution, big things can come from it,” said McNaught, who added it was important for him to reach out to the husband and explain how inspiring Laura’s story has been.
“Hopefully there will be some comfort in that for this family. From all accounts, this was a very courageous woman and what we are trying to do is honour her and the gesture made on her behalf.”
For more information, or to apply for Laura’s Wish, visit the Fertility Ontario website at www.fertilityontario.com/lauras-wish.
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